The joke’s on her: I’ve already been hit by a fully-loaded tractor once, in March of 1988! And look at me driving pretty much every day in spite of that!
Did you, my treasured reader, know that I left Road&Track almost a year ago? If you read Road&Track‘s social media, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that. They’re still republishing my work a few times a week. Who can blame them? I signed a contract which allows Hearst to republish in perpetuity, and frankly they’d be stupid not to. Saturday’s re-pop of my 2014! article about keeping trucks out of the left lane generated more comments, likes, and shares than everything in the two days surrounding it, combined. This reinforces my Zaphod Beeblebrox perspective that I was the greatest thing to ever happen to that magazine, by the way.
There are a few drawbacks to this narcissism-engorging state of affairs, however. The first is that I’m not getting paid any more for these columns. Like the Beatles masters or a Memphis Minnie song, my work keeps changing hands and making money for people long after it leaves my keyboard. People would rather read something I wrote five or six years ago than check out the latest work from Bob, Chris, Mack, or any of the other luminaries currently holding down the fort in New York City. I am subsidizing their Brooklyn-hipster lifestyles with my immense, limitless talent, a benign god showering clicks on them while they shudder in the darkness of total obscurity. Every re-pop is a notarized affirmation of my unpaid, but also undeniable, superiority. I’m basically their dad or something. It’s The House That Jack Built.
Oh, there’s also the problem that I keep getting email from R&T readers. Like, a lot of it. And I have to read it, because I take my duty to the readers seriously. It’s enough to make me turn my GMail notifications off, because I’ll pick up 50-100 notifications every time one of my re-pops re-stirs the passions of whatever readers didn’t see it the previous dozen times it was re-popped. Thankfully, sometimes they put the bulk of their message in the subject line, as was the case above.
It’s a common trope of female Jalopnik writers to complain about the sexist hate mail they get. It’s their staunch belief that men don’t get hate mail, that it’s something very special which only happens to empowered female autojournalists who threaten the fragile masculinity of the people who pay their salaries by tirelessly clicking on all their Amazon Anker Powerbank Kinja Deals Of The Day. Were that true, it would save me a lot of annoyance — but it’s not. I get all the stuff they get, with one particular addition: a significant percentage of my readers make it plain that they will be kicking my ass the minute they see me on the street. Luckily for me, nothing blends into the background of pedestrian traffic like a 250-pound, six-foot-two man with armpit-length hair and an array of neon-colored clothing, so these ass-kickings have yet to arrive. I also get a lot of “I wish you would die,” largely because I don’t think Americans would line up around the block to pay $28,995 for a one-liter Suzuki Jimny that can’t quite do 80mph up a mild grade.
I don’t publish or discuss this hate mail on a frequent basis because I don’t get off on victimization, real or imagined, the way some other people appear to. In the case of “Ms Miller 1985”, however, I’m going to make an exception. Why? It’s simple: I’m a bit daunted by what appears to me to be a relatively large disparity between the subject of my column (the idea that trucks in America could stay in the right lane, the way they do in Europe) and the punishment she’s envisioned for me as a consequence (being run over by a truck and paralyzed). Not that this sort of hyper-agitated discourse isn’t common on, say, 4Chan, but in this case the writer is a real person with a real life who thought that her Saturday afternoon would be best spent in sitting down and composing a disturbingly illiterate paean to my devoutly-wished-for crippling-via-tractor-trailer. Not because I’ve hurt anyone, or advocated anyone’s genocide, or even insulted her personally. Because I think we should align our highway laws with Europe’s. That’s why she wants me to spend the rest of my life in a motorized wheelchair.
Let’s note for the records that Ms. Miller’s proposed solution was a bit more extreme than that contained in most of this weekend’s e-haul. Many of my critics simply suggested that I spend a week or so covering the open road with them. They seemed to feel that I would empathize with their situation, were I given the chance to experience it first-hand. Maybe I’ll take one of them up on it at some point — it would make for a fascinating story. In the meantime, however, I’ll refer you, my cherished readers, to this brilliant account of a year spent as a long-haul trucker.
We arrived back in Murray, Kentucky, where Paschall’s front office was. After a day of waiting on site, I was called in. The man who fires people folded his hands and sighed at me, speaking with a southern tiredness.
“You fall asleep at the wheel?” he finally asked.
I said yes.
“Well, that guy,” he said, nodding to Chuck, who was standing outside. “He’s just…”
“I know,” I said.
“Are you okay?”
He sighed again. I was not among the first thousand drivers to come through here. “I’m going to write a book someday about all the shit I’ve seen.” He was looking through the wall. “It’s just… somebody’s got to give these people a second chance. Or I guess not. But we do.”
I walked out of the office, still, somehow, employed.
Good stuff. The irony is that MSMILLER1985 has a bit of a point in her suggestion that I get hit by a truck. As you saw in last week’s Roundup, collisions between trucks and cars happen a lot, and it’s the “little people” who bear the medical brunt of this interaction by a ratio of something like six to one. I’m not surprised by this. The Mack driver who dipped onto the shoulder and ran sixteen-year-old me and my Free Agent Limo down like a dog was completely unhurt by the interaction. He puked when he saw me, but five minutes later he was right as rain.
I was not right as rain. They put me back together without using all the pieces; slivers of leg bone, ligaments, memories, a square foot of skin, eleven pints of blood, all left on the emergency-room floor. It wasn’t the first puke-inducing injury I’d had, and it would be far from the last. Yet I’m here, doing my thing, riding my bike, racing my car, wearing shell cordovan perforated bluchers by Crockett&Jones. Is it any wonder that I’ve acquired the conviction that I will be as immortal as my writing? Perhaps more so.
In the darkest hole, you’d be well advised
Not to plan my funeral ‘fore the body dies
Or maybe not. I could be wrong. The next truck to hit me might finish the job. Or another way; I could crash my Kwacker, catch a rock to the head on a double-black-diamond MTB trail, wake up tomorrow with a constellation of tumors in my body. Have no fear: I will live on in the hearts of the women who have loved me and the feckless dweebs who deride me. Not to mention that — of course — you’ll always be able to find me on the social-media pages of Road&Track.